Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fired a volley of criticism at former President Donald Trump over his reliance on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the then-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as the pandemic's most influential figure in the U.S. government.
Over the weekend, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized former President Donald Trump for giving Dr. Anthony Fauci, the then-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, undue influence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the Utah GOP Convention on Saturday, DeSantis emphasized that leaders must have the confidence to stand alone and make decisions for themselves, rather than outsourcing their leadership to health bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci.
DeSantis recalled the early days of his governorship, noting that Florida faced an existential threat due to its status as the third-largest state in the country, its high percentage of elderly residents, and its tourism-based economy.
He insisted that he made the judgment to take the bull by the horns and make decisions himself, rather than following the example set by Trump, who heavily relied on Fauci's advice.
“A leader must have the confidence to stand all alone if need be,” DeSantis said. “And so for us, as I got into office, COVID presented that situation for us because we were in a situation – the third-largest state in the country – one of the highest percentage of elderly, economy based on tourism, which we needed to travel to continue.”
“So this situation was an existential threat to our state, but I made the judgment,” DeSantis continued. “Leaders take the bull by the horns and make the decisions for themselves. They don’t subcontract out their leadership to health bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci.”
It’s worth pointing out that Trump’s official campaign account, the Trump War Room, promoted Dr. Fauci in 2020 and highlighted his close relationship with the former president.
DeSantis's remarks come as Trump faces backlash from conservatives for using far-left organizations and media outlets to attack DeSantis and the state of Florida.
Trump cited data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Florida Policy Institute to argue that DeSantis had led the state into "complete and total delinquency and destruction," creating a climate of "misery and despair" for Floridians.
The Trump campaign claimed that DeSantis had left a wake of destruction across Florida and that people were suffering because he had focused more on playing public relations games than on doing the hard work necessary to improve the lives of his constituents.
These criticisms come despite the fact that Florida has attracted more Americans over the last few years, including Trump himself, than any other state in the country. This is largely due to the freedoms preserved in the state during the pandemic.
Fox News reported that the NLIHC, one of the organizations Trump cited in his attacks on DeSantis, is dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy, the Daily Wire reported.
The Florida Policy Institute, also cited by Trump, is a left-leaning organization that claims to be non-partisan. Another report indicated that the NLIHC is a pro-transgender nonprofit that is part of a coalition of progressive organizations, the Alliance for Justice, which is backed by George Soros.